For the sake of the children: Good Divorce Week
Victoria Strode, Head of Family Department at Mogers Drewett
It’s Resolution’s ‘Good Divorce Week’ this week (26-30 November). While your first reaction may be that there is no such thing as a ‘good’ divorce, it is undoubtedly true that some divorces run more smoothly and amicably than others.
Separation and divorce often cause significant emotional pain on both sides, as well as having major financial implications. All too often, though, it is the children who suffer, and get caught in the middle.
It is primarily with the children in mind that charity Resolution has created Good Divorce Week, with the aim of promoting a better family justice system that minimises the impact on children.
Research by Resolution found that 79% of people agree divorce or separation can negatively affect a child’s mental health, rising to 87% of those who experienced their own parents divorcing as a child. Nearly eight in ten (77%) said conflict could affect children’s academic performance and a further two-thirds felt social interactions and the ability to form healthy romantic relationships were also jeopardised.
One hope for positive change is the prospect of allowing ‘no fault’ divorces, which the Government recently put forward proposals for. At present, a divorce must involve one party blaming the other (and proving it) on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour. This can naturally have the effect of increasing argument and dispute.
But if the proposals are agreed – and they generally have wide backing – then neither party would have to prove anything: simply wanting a divorce would be sufficient.
This would make it much easier to get divorced. It would also mean that divorces could happen earlier, because at present couples have to live separately for two years if no blame can be proven. Even then, if one party doesn’t agree then couples have to live apart for five years before they can divorce.
According to Resolution, an overwhelming 79% of the public support the concept of no fault divorce, with 71% believing change is urgently needed to reduce the negative impact on children. Nine out of ten people agree that the current law makes it harder to reduce conflict between ex-partners.
I hope that the no fault change will come about as quickly as possible. But even if and when it does, there will remain significant issues to be agreed, such as the financial terms of the divorce. That is why it is important for couples to explore every avenue when looking to separate – including services such as mediation that bring a couple into the same room with just one mediator and which can often prove quicker and allow the couple to work together at finding solutions that best suit their family.
At Mogers Drewett, we always look to help our clients with compassion and sensitivity and find the best way forward for everyone – including, of course, the children. If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce or separation, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.